Solve Relationship Problems © Martyn Carruthers

The consequences of attachment disorders include family members
who feel disconnected from each other.

Dissolving Adult Attachment Disorders

People who did not enjoy their connections with their parents or caregivers may suffer from attachment disorders. Can you trust people? Unresolved attachment issues can prevent people from forming secure and stable adult relationships.

While most people want love and affection, people with attachment disorders may be unable to express their desires appropriately. Such adults often feel sadness for their lost possibilities for happy relationships, anger for their inability to express and receive love and fear that their future relationships will be just as problematic. They may say that they do not know what love is and be unable to express their feelings.

Such attachment problems cross generations – the symptoms appear to pass from parents to their children. While it takes time, work and patience to identify and change attachment disorders, the harvest includes healthy relationships and lives.

We help people and couples integrate and heal any emotional blocks to growth and happiness. This includes becoming aware of past disappointments and destructive patterns – and integrating or assimilating lost or split-off parts of self.

Attachments are examples of emotional bonds between people, for example between life partners or between children and parents. Supportive attachments provide a basis for happiness, while detachment often delays emotional development.

The consequences of disturbed childhood or interrupted attachment
are most obvious in people’s relationship and communication skills.

Why is attachment important?

Most children bond well to adults who show them caring and treat them well. If a child’s bonding with a caretaker is interrupted, the children may show attachment disorders.

Attachment disorders may follow difficult pregnancies, substance abuse during pregnancy, parental conflicts, separations from primary caretakers, abuse, neglect, parental mental illness or parents with poor parenting skills.

Chimpanzee and gorilla infants separated from their parents cry and refuse
to be consoled. Then they become passive, and later they may ignore their
parents. Human children often show similar reactions if they are ignored,
abused, neglected or separated from nurturing adults.

Symptoms associated with Attachment Disorders in Infants

  • Defensive
  • Does not cling
  • Does not reciprocate smiles
  • Delayed crawling, sitting, etc
  • Constant fear, rage or whining
  • Indifferent to people
  • Poor sucking response
  • Unhappy, but rarely cries
  • Resists cuddling and affection
  • Avoids other infants or children

Children often respond to painful emotions by hiding part or all of their identity, and compensate by creating limiting identity beliefs (unpleasant beliefs about self) that explain or justify the caretakers’ abuse or maltreatment (e.g.: “I am bad“). Children with toxic self-beliefs may have severe behavioral problems – for example they:

  • cannot feel self-reliant
  • cannot cope with threats
  • cannot cope with frustration
  • cannot feel or respond to guilt
  • cannot develop intellectual potential
  • cannot evaluate thoughts and emotions

Children who bond to their caregivers with limiting beliefs instead of loving bonds may become unable to participate in friendship, teamwork, partnership or parenthood. Instead they may excel in manipulation and deceit. Events associated with attachment disorders include

  • Premature births
  • Inadequate daycare
  • Mother’s depression
  • Chronic painful illnesses
  • Parent’s lack parenting skills
  • Parental neglect
  • Frequent family moves
  • Parents’ substance abuse
  • Separation from primary caregiver
  • Physical, emotional or sexual abuse


Attachment Disorder Consequences

Disturbed children may break their toys, threaten siblings and hurt pets. They create stress and tension if their parents try to limit or control their activities. The parents may attempt to express love to disturbed children, yet expressions of love may be ignored or rejected. Some warning signs are:

  • Describes distorted realities
  • Demanding and manipulative
  • Abusive and hurtful to parents
  • Impulsive
  • Hurts people or their possessions
  • Fascination with blood, fire and gore

The long-term consequences of interrupted attachment may not become apparent until adolescence, when their lack of relationship skills and unpleasant emotions become noticeable. See Anxiety and Schizophrenia

Some parents express aggression or hostility towards such children. If parents reject, fear or even hate their children, then both parents and children may later experience stress symptoms PTSD, depression or mental breakdown.

Children with attachment disorders may be charming to relatives and schoolteachers. People outside the family may criticize or condemn the parents, as the parents may appear to be hostile or angry towards such nice children without justification.

From a systemic perspective, such children have recruited
other adults to express their anger towards their parents!

Interrupted Attachment: Antisocial & Psychopathic Behavior

Extreme consequences of interrupted attachment may be the disregard of other people’s rights (antisocial personality disorder) or violent harm to others (psychopathic personality disorder).

Most people diagnosed as antisocial or psychopathic seem to have suffered severe family difficulties: a history of neglect, rejection, abuse and insults (Martens 1997) and damaged relationships. They may:

  1. seek sensations
  2. pretend emotions
  3. act out violent impulses
  4. not consider the consequences of their actions (Cleckley, 1984)

If you cannot feel guilt or remorse, how different would your life be? If you are not forcibly stopped, would you try to do whatever you wished? About 1 person in 25 are antisocial or psychopaths – you probably know some.


Bonding positively includes simple things: maintaining eye contact, and smiling. Help people feel secure with you. Be consistent and patient and do not expect rapid results!

Make opportunities to do things together – show a person that he or she is cared for. Bonding to disturbed people is not easy.

Although you cannot force people to bond to you, you can be consistent and patient. Parental tough love can help children make decisions and deal with conflict. Teach children how to consider requests, responsibilities, actions and consequences. Examples are:

  • Use physical exercise as discipline
  • Keep children busy, or have them do “quiet sitting”
  • Ask a child to do many chores … and leave those chores undone

Parenting children with attachment disorders is difficult, although both parents and children can recover. Avoid taking a child’s behavior or insults personally, and avoid blaming anybody. Contact us for help with your emotions and relationships.

People whose parents suffered mental illness, anger management problems or substance abuse may have attachment disorders, which can manifest as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Academic problems
  • Relationship problems
  • Drug and other addictions
  • Temper or anger outbursts
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Unemployment or frequent job changes

Are you ready to change?

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